If you’ve ever wondered how to give your home a beautiful seaside look, this is how it’s done. This 1970s bungalow has been transformed into a nautical New England style holiday home, by the inspired owner, Nicola. Camber, famed for its long sandy beach, is the perfect location for this bright and breezy residence. Successful property transformations breathe new life into run-down old buildings and give hope and confidence to others daring to embark on similar projects. Admittedly we are visiting this house on a lovely sunny day, but I suspect that even grey skies don’t darken the view. As I am greeted by owner Nicola and her young Red Fox Labrador, Lupin, outside the house, it is already hard to imagine what the house looked like in any ‘before’ pictures.

Seaside, Camber, Nicola opened out the kitchen to make a more spacious, easy living area downstairs. Metal jelly mould lights snake across the kitchen ceiling

Nicola opened out the kitchen to make a more spacious, easy living area downstairs. Metal jelly mould lights snake across the kitchen ceiling

Stylish storage makes great use of the under-stair space

Stylish storage makes great use of the under-stair space

The walls of the sitting room are clad in painted pine boards

The walls of the sitting room are clad in painted pine boards

Much of the furniture has come from her grandparents and an elderly uncle’s home and some pieces, such as the lovely old trunk in the front sitting room that once travelled the world with her Air Vice-Marshal great-uncle

Much of the furniture has come from her grandparents and an elderly uncle’s home and some pieces, such as the lovely old trunk in the front sitting room that once travelled the world with her Air Vice-Marshal great-uncle

Nicola wanted each room in the house to feature one wall clad in reclaimed floorboards

Nicola wanted each room in the house to feature one wall clad in reclaimed floorboards

Lupin waits patiently in the hallway for her beach walk

Lupin waits patiently in the hallway for her beach walk

All ready for the beach

All ready for the beach

Simplicity is the key

Simplicity is the key

The bathrooms have been simply and effectively decorated with wood panelling and subway tiles

The bathrooms have been simply and effectively decorated with wood panelling and subway tiles

The bathroom has a fresh and simple look

The bathroom has a fresh and simple look

“My starting point was a completely white beach house, a New England look. I didn’t want it to be twee,” she adds, “like a typical blue and white striped seaside house, but I did want a rustic feel, with a nod towards the location, and it definitely had to be a beach house in feel.”

“My starting point was a completely white beach house, a New England look. I didn’t want it to be twee,” she adds, “like a typical blue and white striped seaside house, but I did want a rustic feel, with a nod towards the location, and it definitely had to be a beach house in feel.”

The bedrooms have been treated in a similar uncomplicated way and the understated scheme is a great backdrop to the quaint finds and harmonising colour accents

The bedrooms have been treated in a similar uncomplicated way and the understated scheme is a great backdrop to the quaint finds and harmonising colour accents

The floors throughout the house are painted in ‘Ammonite’ by Farrow and Ball. The simple floor treatment has proved to be a godsend too, as it is very easy to sweep out the main by product of seaside living – sand

The floors throughout the house are painted in ‘Ammonite’ by Farrow and Ball. The simple floor treatment has proved to be a godsend too, as it is very easy to sweep out the main by product of seaside living – sand

It is the charming details that immediately soften what could have been stark, functional rooms into bright and welcoming spaces

It is the charming details that immediately soften what could have been stark, functional rooms into bright and welcoming spaces

this home now looks as if it would be just as comfortable near the shores of Cape Cod as Camber Sands

This home now looks as if it would be just as comfortable near the shores of Cape Cod as Camber Sands

There are lots of excellent design tips to be picked up from Nicola, and the use of a restricted palette is an example of another good one. With white as the base, any colour combination could work, but there’s something about the light by the coast that brings depth to greens, greys and blues

There are lots of excellent design tips to be picked up from Nicola, and the use of a restricted palette is an example of another good one. With white as the base, any colour combination could work, but there’s something about the light by the coast that brings depth to greens, greys and blues

Dried flowers and shells enhance the space

Dried flowers and shells enhance the space

Bright and airy, restful bedroom

Bright and airy, restful bedroom

Nicola’s eye for detail and her clever use of up-cycled salvage and retro items has come into its own on this project

Nicola’s eye for detail and her clever use of up-cycled salvage and retro items has come into its own on this project

Although the pine cladding is completely white, she wanted one wall in each room – “I don’t like the term ‘feature wall’, but there isn’t another word for it” – to be clad in old salvaged floorboards that Nicola has carefully collected

Although the pine cladding is completely white, she wanted one wall in each room – “I don’t like the term ‘feature wall’, but there isn’t another word for it” – to be clad in old salvaged floorboards that Nicola has carefully collected

“We’ve always come down here with the boys. It has such a lovely long sandy beach. I knew I wanted to find a property down here – the location is right, it’s near to London and most of the other beaches nearby are pebbly,” says Nicola

“We’ve always come down here with the boys. It has such a lovely long sandy beach. I knew I wanted to find a property down here – the location is right, it’s near to London and most of the other beaches nearby are pebbly,” says Nicola

The location has helped, I’m sure; the fact that the beach is only a pebble skim away must have sent some energising ozone to aid the inspiration, and help to bring a clear vision of how the house could be transformed

The location has helped, I’m sure; the fact that the beach is only a pebble skim away must have sent some energising ozone to aid the inspiration, and help to bring a clear vision of how the house could be transformed

When the original house was knocked down in the 1970s all that was left were the shell designs on the garden wall. Nicola changed the name of the house back to Shell House, and says that if she had her way the wall would have a preservation order on it

When the original house was knocked down in the 1970s all that was left were the shell designs on the garden wall. Nicola changed the name of the house back to Shell House, and says that if she had her way the wall would have a preservation order on it

  • words:
  • pictures: David Merewether
  • styling: Lucy Fleming

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